Friday, December 30, 2016

To The Messy One


If you've been reading my blog long enough, you know that previous season of my life was overwhelmingly difficult. I've written a lot about it from my teensy little corner of the internet, and I've poured out thousands of words on the subject… and I'm still not sure I did the heaviness justice. It was like all the color and all the oxygen got sucked out of my life. I was in an emotional state akin to lying on a cold, colorless bathroom floor--suffocating. My circumstances were smothering--and I wasn't sure I would make it out in one piece. Every time I tried to get up--and BOY DID I TRY--the heaviness shoved me down again. 

I'm breathing again. I'm on the upswing, but I was thinking back on this hard season I just crawled through. You know what's funny? Eleven and a half years ago I was actually lying on a cold tile bathroom floor--struggling to catch my breath. Though this is the place I have found myself metaphorically in recent years, I actually have physically and LITERALLY been there before. In the spring of 2005, I found myself on a dirty bathroom floor holding a positive pregnancy test. I was 18. And not married. And terrified. And yet--somehow after I allowed the panic to subside, I felt the presence of God there with me. It's not something I can put into words, but Jesus pulled me off that bathroom floor. He gave me peace beyond explanation. 

And then I showed up--ready, willing and able to serve Him. I was excited. I was on fire. And then the more I learned about God, the less worthy I felt of His offerings. The hits of the world just kept coming, and I credited these blows to my worth. You know the speech if you struggle like I do "life sucks, but so do I… I guess I deserve it. And since I deserve it, I guess God wants me to be treated this way."

Slowly, steadily, and surely… my flame fizzled out. And rather than showing up EXCITED to see God as I had before… I hid. Much like Eve did. She pulled out those fig leaves to cover her shame. I pulled out my bedroom comforter. And it was there I stayed for the better part of 3 years.

It was the gospel of Jesus that saved me, but somewhere along the way I lost the fullness of it. Or I decided I wasn't worth of all of it. 

I knew that I needed a Savior. But I forgot that He actually WANTED to save me.

I knew that I needed forgiveness. But I forgot that forgiveness was a free gift available to me at all times. 

I knew that God's love was deeper than all measure. But I felt deeper… completely out of reach.

I knew that I accepted Christ. But I also knew he could NEVER accept me.

I knew that I was a mess. But I forgot that being a work in progress is not wrong. It's human. It's NORMAL. And I forgot that my savior specializes in cleaning up messes

If this is you, dearest one, and you feel too messy for God--simply put, you're not. If you go searching for perfect people in the Bible, you'll be disappointed. God specializes in works in progress. Sweet one, you don't have to be all cleaned up to come to Him. He NEVER SAID to go get yourself right BEFORE you come to Him. He never said you'll be perfect. In fact, the word tells us that His power is made perfect in weakness. Without weakness and brokenness, we would have no need for Him. 

The Bible is CHOCKFULL of people in progress. These were people Jesus loved exactly as they were. He loved them and pursued them in spite of the messes they were in. If you look to scripture, I'm sure you can find yourself in pieces of all of them. 

We are the woman at the well. We are ashamed of our choices and completely taken aback that Jesus would even associate with our kind. 

…and yet…he quenches our spiritual thirst

We are Zacchaeus. We are hiding at a distance hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus. We stay at a distance because we are small and we are seen by others as bad--so we hope to sit on a branch to catch that glimpse without causing trouble.

…and yet… Jesus comes by our hiding spot and calls us by name

We are Martha. We dash around like mad trying to find validation in making everyone else happy and comfortable.

…and yet… when we miss the point, yet again, Jesus softly whispers to us to sit at His feet

We are the Lazarus. Completely incapable of curing what ailed us. Jesus came too late, it seems.

…and yet… Jesus brings us back to life

We are the sinful woman. We've collapsed at His feet in exhaustion and shame. We use our best perfumes and our tears to wash His feet in an attempt to ditch our guilt.

…and yet… He forgives. He always forgives. No matter what we have done

We are a mess. We are a work in progress, just like ALL who have come before us. We will find pieces our ourselves in ever character in the Bible. This is why He gave His Word to us. The Word reminds us over and over that Jesus came for the mess. In fact, the religiously perfect were incapable of seeing Him for who He was. God does His best work in the biggest messes. He always has, He always will. 

"He reached down from Heaven and RESCUED ME; He drew me out of deep waters… He led me to a place of safety; HE RESCUED ME BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN ME." 

Psalm 18:16, 19

In order for Him to rescue you, sweet one, He first had to have His eye on you. He had to assess the situation you found yourself in to strategically intervene on your behalf. This means He saw ALL OF IT. The good, the bad, and the ugly. He reached down in the deepest darkest pits to set you free. He rescued you from your enemies, your fears, your sin, from distress, from weakness, from yourself, and from death. He rescued you because He delights in you. Never, ever forget that.



Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm Not Sending Out Christmas Cards

The week of Thanksgiving, I remember thinking to myself that I should probably get on it with the Christmas cards. I didn't send them out last year either… so I was feeling guilty and feeling like I probably owed it to relatives and friends to just get them out no matter what. I started googling looking at all the pretty Christmas card designs and I felt an instant pang of dread. It felt a lot more stressful than joyful. I mean, it always has been an extra layer of stress for me during the holiday season… But this year the dread struck me like lightning. 

So since it's so much harder for me to be kind to myself than it is to be kind to a friend… I thought to myself "what would I tell a girlfriend if she were telling me this?" It's my new thing to help me not torture myself more than I already have the propensity to do… Here's what I would say to a friend "Girl, don't even send those cards. Focus on your sweet family. Spend the time you would've spent addressing cards loving on them. Bring joy instead of stress into their lives. Mailing out Christmas cards doesn't make you a better wife and mom--ditching stress does." 

So, no cards. OhMahGosh y'all it feels so great to come to this decision. No individually mailed cards this year, and it's quite possible there will never be individually mailed cards ever again. No stamping stuff. No begging pardons from people for asking for their addresses once again because I can't keep my sh** together and just input their info into my phone like any normal, civilized human in 2016. No spending an insane amount of money on cards and stamps to send to people I haven't physically seen in almost a decade. No coordinating outfits to match and arguing with my son that he better get that freshly pressed shirt tucked in. I DON'T EVER PRESS SHIRTS, Y'ALL. My dryer has an over-utilized steam function that makes me never iron anything. Anything requiring an iron and starch gets outsourced to the dry cleaners because I ain't about that life. So I ask you: WHY IN THE BLUE BLAZES do I need people on my mailing list to think that my son wears starchy, crispy shirts he hates wearing?! Lawd.

Last year I did a silly e-card with a pun-tastic caption and a photo collage on Facebook. This year I'm doing only this blog post. YOLO! It feels so good to scratch an unnecessary stressor I burden myself with off of my list. There is stress that comes with the ebbs and flows of life, and then there is stress that is self inflicted. I feel like American culture is absolutely LOADED with self inflicted stress. This is the kind of stress that we choose and pile on because "it's just how things are done", "it's just what we do", and this is "just the way it is". Um. Who is the boss of these ridiculous rules of Pinteresty cute Christmas cards?! Who decided this is a thing moms must do?! I don't know… But she's fired. 

So anyway, our family still exists. I promise. We put on a little weight from last year. My hair is longer than it was last year. The Messy Mr has a little more salt in his salt and pepper look he's been rocking the past few years (which I think is sexy as all get out). Our kiddo is a little bigger and he cares a lot more about his swooshy bangs than he did last year. Barkley is still as ugly as he ever was, but we had another year of his sweet snuggles. 

We tried to take a selfie with all 4 of us in it 45 times and this was the best we could do. It's super fuzzy because the dog sneezed in my husband's face right before we took it. Bless. But I love it anyway. I put it in black and white to make it feel a little fancier. Merry Christmas!